Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Wednesday, November 22, 2017

College Would Never Be Like This Again ...


Tall Story (1960) Is Fonda's First and Perkins' Last Pre-Norman


When did dreamy close-ups in movies go away, or have they? Certainly ones like given Jane Fonda in Tall Story stopped, as in step right in and join her for a clinch sort that made Hollywood a drug masses sought before slide by 1960 that was steepening. Tall Story was sold as launch for Fonda as New Face in All-Caps. Look at the trailer and know this was dusk on old days and already an anachronism when vet Josh Logan put a distinctly old-style collegiate farce in play. For Warners, it was more The Male Animal than current landscape where blackboards meant a jungle and even Dick Clark couldn't harness reckless youth, Tall Story being old folks' notion of how student bodies comport (its companion piece at twilight: High Time). They should have put Tall Story on a time machine and sent it back to 40's theatres where it belonged.




So why have I watched several times? Maybe there's pity for a thing so displaced in a changing culture. Look where Jane Fonda went from here. Barbarella was ahead by less than a decade, with Euro sex dramas during interim that got her spread over Playboy pages, an unauthorized use, but Fonda was by then vanguard of lax standards, so they'd argue she assumed a risk. Remarkable thing is her still working, as in a Netflix sitcom, plus feature reunion with Robert Redford (supposedly a small part in Tall Story, though I couldn't spot him). That's going on sixty years when you count neophyte stage work, longer than father Henry was active. Used to be news when a Gloria Swanson or Lillian Gish showed up in new stuff, but now we've got fresh epoch of working antiques, only more of them, lots more. Will Redford, for instance, ever stop? And yet to me he's never been better than at recent efforts; an only reason I watched one of the Captain Americas was RR being the villain, his single line, Oh, Renata, I wish you'd knocked, a bigger sock than all of CGI that surrounded it.






But back to Tall Story. It was Broadway spawned, was saucy, and again put forth proposition, known from a Plastic Age and since, that college was a Petri dish for young love, and hunting ground for  husbands, that notion already discredited by dawn of the 60's, and soon to be unthinkable as a plot device. Jane Fonda is frank here as to mate-quest, and majors in home economics toward that end. Her quarry is first-billed Anthony Perkins, and here is where Tall Story achieves spooky resonance, the picture released but months in front of Psycho. There must have been heck of a fault line between audiences that saw Tall Story before Psycho and those that saw it after. Talk about adjustment issues! Tony was twitchy at best of times, but at least not dangerous, that is before he was Norman. Watching Tall Story since Psycho yields subtext enough to drown in. Every move and line reading from Perkins is freighted with Norman, and that makes this woeful dated comedy a must-watch, even where the rest, nearly as bizarre and fascinating, is left off equation.




Much of Tall Story is known fact of athletics being true business of colleges rather than education. "Ethics" professor Ray Walston cites $4,000 as "a year's salary." Should I Google and find out if that really was case for 1960 instructors? Cold war fun is had when "Custer College" engages basketball against Russian students, Tony the lanky center who rescues honor for his team. Young players surround Perkins like hungry wolves after fame he enjoyed. I saw Gary Lockwood, Van Williams, "Billy Jack" Laughlin, and could but imagine laser-like ambition driving each ... but would any forfeit a future, even if unknowingly, by essaying Norman Bates? Perkins got immortality for Psycho, but gave up chance he'd be a conventional leading man again, or at least one audiences could enjoy comfortably. Tall Story for me played as though it would burst into a musical, which doesn't happen, but sheer odd-ness of the thing --- and steel yourself for very extended kiss-and-nibble scenes twixt Fonda and Perkins --- make this one fun in ways not anticipated by WB marketers. They'd sell Tall Story as "Big and Blushy," which it very much is, given what we know now that viewers then did not. TCM runs Tall Story in HD, and there is a DVD from Warner Archive.

6 Comments:

Blogger Supersoul said...

Tall Story was a must-see for us eighth graders in 1960 at Bradley Beach (NJ) Grammar School. I recall the buzz about it during the week before it opened at the Palace Theatre in BB (the same theatre frequented by young Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito). I never saw them there, but then they would have been there a few years earlier.

I'm not sure why the movie was so well anticipated by my friends. Probably because of Tony Perkins, who was a favorite of young girls at the time. I knew Jane Fonda was Henry's daughter, being a big fan of classic movies even as a child, but knew little else about her. That was soon to change upon viewing her for the first time. What an impression she made on this 13 year old naïve, inexperienced school boy! I was smitten to say the least.

I don't remember much of the story after almost 60 years, but I never forgot my first movie crush.

6:43 AM  
Blogger kenneth Von Gunden said...

Who knew Henry Fonda looked so fabulous as a woman? Looking at Jane Fonda there is NO doubt that HF was her dad and yet she looks just like him while being a beautiful woman!
I wonder if Steve Railsback had a truncated career, too, for playing Charles Manson on a TV version of "Helter Skelter"? The Wolf, man.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

What's with the airbrushing of Perkins' leg in that photo with him in the basketball uniform?

10:17 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

No idea. It sure wasn't me that airbrushed it.

4:18 AM  
Blogger tbonemankini said...

Saw this on TV many years later... bit of a giggle at feminist Jane mouthing words that would stick in her throat later on....but she was always very good at reinventing herself...

3:59 AM  
Blogger rnigma said...

I didn't notice how wonky Tony's leg looked in that still...probably because my attention was on Jane's legs...

7:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016
  • October 2016
  • November 2016
  • December 2016
  • January 2017
  • February 2017
  • March 2017
  • April 2017
  • May 2017
  • June 2017
  • July 2017
  • August 2017
  • September 2017
  • October 2017
  • November 2017
  • December 2017